Red Deer sees more fentanyl deaths in 2017: Report

By Troy Gillard (Twitter: @Troy_Gillard)
March 5, 2018 - 3:40pm

Red Deer is seeing the second-highest rate of apparent fentanyl-related deaths among Alberta’s larger cities.

Alberta Health has released its final 2017 Quarterly Report on Opioids and Substances of Misuse. The report includes the final tally for deaths, ER visits, hospitalizations and methadone/naloxone dispensing.

In Alberta, 687 people died from apparent accidental opioid overdoses last year, nearly two people per day. An overwhelming 81.2 per cent (562 people) died from an apparent accidental fentanyl overdose, compared to 358 people in 2016.

The number of accidental poisoning deaths related to carfentanil increased by an alarming 430 per cent from 20 deaths in 2016 to 159 in 2017.

In the Central Zone, 48 people died last year from apparent fentanyl overdoses. More than half of those deaths were in Red Deer (25), which is two more than our city saw the year previous.

There were 39 fentanyl-related deaths in the Central Zone in 2016.

The cities of Calgary and Edmonton continue to have the highest number of apparent fentanyl overdose deaths in Alberta. However, Grande Prairie had the highest rate of apparent fentanyl deaths in 2017 at 33.8 per 100,000 person years, followed by Red Deer at 22.6.

Most of those dying from apparent accidental fentanyl overdoses are men ages 30-34, and women ages 25-29.

From 2014 – 2017, five per cent (1,383) of all emergency department visits at Red Deer Regional Hospital were related to misuse of opioids and other substances, making it the sixth-busiest hospital in Alberta when it comes to dealing with opioid-related visits. Four per cent of hospitalizations at RDRH during that same time were opioid-related.

In Alberta, the rate of unique individuals dispensed methadone indicated for opioid dependence from community pharmacies per 100,000 appears to be stable, with only a 1 per cent increase from 2016 to 2017.

From Jan. 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2017, more than 37,000 naloxone kits were dispensed in Alberta through Alberta Health Services’ (AHS’) naloxone program, and nearly 2,900 reversals were self-reported.

Harm reduction agencies, such as Turning Point, are distributing the most naloxone kits followed by community pharmacies.

Red Deerians buried by up to 15 centimetres of snow over the weekend

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